Phytotoxic effects of commercial Eucalyptus citriodora, Lavandula angustifolia, and Pinus sylvestris essential oils on weeds, crops, and invasive species.
Background: essential oils are well known for their pharmacological effectiveness as well as their repellent, insecticide, and herbicide activities. The emergence of resistant weeds, due to the overuse of synthetic herbicides, makes it necessary to find natural alternatives for weed control. The aim of this study was to evaluate the phytotoxic effects of Eucalyptus citriodora, Lavandula angustifolia, and Pinus sylvestris, three common commercial essential oils, on weeds (Portulaca oleracea, Lolium multiflorum, and Echinochloa crus-galli), food crops (tomato and cucumber), and the invasive species Nicotiana glauca. Methods: to determine herbicidal effects, essential oils were tested at different concentrations (0.125-1 µL/mL). The index of germination and seedling length data were recorded over 14 days. Results: the in vitro assays showed that L. angustifolia with linalool (38.7±0.1%), 1,8-cineole (26.5±0.1%), and camphor (14.2±0.1%) as the main compounds showed the most phytotoxic effects affecting seed germination in weeds and tomato, and the aforementioned invasive species. L. multiflorum was the most sensitive weed, particularly to lavender essential oil, which decreased the growth of its hypocotyl and radicle by 87.8% and 76.7%, respectively, at a dose of 1 µL/mL. Cucumber was the most resistant food crop, with no significant reduction observed in seed germination and hypocotyl growth with E. citriodora and L. angustifolia essential oils. Conclusions: lavender essential oil represents a promising candidate for the development of effective and safe herbicides in the management of L. multiflorum affecting cucumber crops.